Ted Leonsis Rumors
“We’re thrilled that we already have in place a seasoned sports executive to lead this new league,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “The fact that Brendan knows the NBA inside and out is a huge bonus and will enable us to ramp up this venture in record time.” Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards, told ESPN that the Wizards will be one of the franchises to participate in the upcoming league.
In October, three Arena Football League teams ceased operations and two other teams joined a competing indoor football league in a matter of days, shrinking the AFL from nine teams to four. While the shake-up prompted questions about whether the Ted Leonsis-owned expansion franchise Washington Valor would ever play a game, the Monumental Sports & Entertainment chief executive doubled down on the future of the league by acquiring a second AFL team in Baltimore. The as-yet-unnamed franchise, which was announced Monday, will begin play along with the Valor in the spring 2017 and play its home games at Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena.
His “free agent” comment aside, Leonsis made it clear he is not actively seeking to leave downtown D.C., an area that has grown up around the franchises into a thriving, inner-city entertainment and shopping district. But neither would Leonsis commit to keeping the teams there. “In terms of the Verizon Center, I’m being sincere: There’s been no discussions of would we look to move,” he said. “Have we talked to Virginia? We have not. Have we talked to Maryland? We have not. I would never do that. My goal would be stay where we are or stay within the city.”
I also spoke with Leonsis, and he talked about the value he adds to Team Liquid, as someone with several NBA and NHL lockouts in his rearview mirror. “How do you deal with players and one day a union that emerges to represent the players? I’ve been on the executive committee of the NHL, I’ve worked on the CBA negotiations, and that I think will become important one day,” Leonsis said.
Taming e-sports without dampening the tremendous energy of the community will be a challenge. And it’s not clear that e-sports, without outside investment from traditional media and entertainment entities, would be up to it. “It’s endemic,” Leonsis said of the toxicity. “Anonymity drives a lot of people’s courage. And in the gaming industry, that community needs to do a better job of policing itself without coming off like it’s establishment.”